The Phoenix Suns will look to use their home turf advantage when the New Orleans Pelicans come calling in NBA 2020-21 action on Tuesday. Both teams have won two of their three games in the fledgeling season.
The Suns added 10-time All-Star Chris Paul to take over the team’s playmaking duties from Devin Booker, who is more suited to play the shooting guard role. Coach Monty Williams now has a backcourt that can go toe-to-toe with the best in the league.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, have Zion Williamson back for his sophomore campaign and has no playing time limitations this season. Brandon Ingram, the 2020 Most Improved Player, is playing better than ever too.
On that note, let's have a look at three enticing player matchups that could determine the outcome of the match.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns: Three key matchups to look out for
The New Orleans Pelicans-Phoenix Suns game is between two young teams that harbor playoff ambitions. When the two teams meet on Tuesday, fans could get a glimpse of a burgeoning rivalry of the future.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at three key matchups to watch out for when the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns renew acquaintances:
#1 Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans) vs Jae Crowder (Phoenix Suns)
When Brandon Ingram takes the floor for the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, he could be challenged by defensive specialist Jae Crowder, who will have to be at his best to stop the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.
Ingram is having a ball this season, carrying the New Orleans Pelicans both offensively and defensively. He is averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists a game, which are all career-highs for the fifth-year player out of Duke.
Crowder’s main responsibility for the Phoenix Suns is to keep Ingram from scoring and to add a touch of offense to keep the Pelicans forward busy at the other end of the floor.
#2 Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) vs Mikal Bridges (Phoenix Suns)
After his return from a preseason knee injury last season, Zion Williamson's performances dropped off in the bubble but this season, he has had some big games. That include a 32-point, 14-rebound effort against the Miami Heat on Christmas Day.
Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges could have a difficult time trying to contain Williamson down low. To prevent Williamson from getting a step ahead of him, Bridges will have to be aware of his opponent’s moves on the court.
In offense, Mikal Bridges will have to take the Pelicans forward outside, where he shoots 45% from the three. His 16.3 points-per-game average is more than seven points higher than that of last season.
Considering Bridges’ improvements this season, this is by no means a disadvantageous matchup for the Phoenix Suns.
#3 JJ Redick (New Orleans Pelicans) vs Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
This is one of the more interesting matchups in the game — two pure shooters who will try to outduel the other from long range.
JJ Redick’s numbers are down this season, averaging only 11.3 points per game while shooting at a career-low rate of 31.8% from the 3-point territory. However, these are early days in the season for the New Orleans Pelicans guard, who could come back to form when challenged by another long-range bomber in Devin Booker.
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker isn’t shooting too well either. He’s making a frigid 31.6% from the three and only 76.9% from the free-throw line this season. However, it may not be too long before he gets back to being the big-time scorer that he has evolved into in the past few years. He’s still scoring 22.7 points per game even with the 'dip' in his performances.